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La Chapelle de Minimes
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BWV 71 and 193 by the Chapelle des Minimes

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (June 24, 2007):
Sorry, I know these cantatas are not on the list for discussion now, but I am following a suggestion of ed myskowski to give a report of one of our concerts, and the last one of the season was this morning, with on programma BWV 71 and BWV 193. Here a link to the concert annoucement so you have the names of the conductor and soloists:

Just to situate the context: our ensemble has been created 26 years ago to perform Bach vocal music and has already performed almost all cantatas (some of them several times). There is a concert once a month on Sunday morning, always in the same chuch, the Minimes church, in the centre of Brussels. I am a relatively new chorist but some of them have been there for many years, and our artistic director is one of the founders.

All members of the choir and string players are amateurs, but with some or much musical education and experience. The continuo players (organ, contrabass, cello, bassoon) are volunteer professional musicians. The vocal soloists and some intrumentists (trumpets, oboes, recorders, etc) are paid professionnals. The entrance to the concerts are free and there is no reservation, but many people give money and we sell programmes and advertisements in order to finance the cost of the concerts.

For each concert the choir and the orchestra have three separate rehearsals and one rehearsal together (and with the soloists). It requires much homework, at least for those like me who are not strong sight readers (I use MusicTime to practice and I find it a wonderful tool). But the work is worth it, it is so much fun to sing in this context. This season we had six different conductors, some experienced and others less so but all very good and we learned a lot from each one. Our conductor for this concert - Jan Caals- is a fine singer, and for the choir it is a pleasure to be conducted by someone who can give very reliable and informed advice regarding the way of singing.

Our public is fidel and enthusiastic. The concerts are at 10:30 AM and some people are already sitting there at 9:00 when we start warming up!

I really enjoyed those two cantatas, particularly BWV 71 where the choir has much to sing, and the orchestration is very festive (trumpets, timpani). For this cantata, the 4 soloists were sitting among us, as there are two choruses (#1 and 7) which alternate between "Coro pleno" and "Coro senza ripieni". For these we sung only where it was indicated "Coro pleno" or "con ripieni", while the soloists sung the parts "Senza ripeni". It was the first time I was so close to the soloists during a concert and I really enjoyed it.

Although Chorus #3 ("Dein Alter sei wir deine Jugend") is indicated "Senza ripieni", we performed it with the choir and the soloists remained seated while we sung (by the way just a few days before, we passed an audition and we had to sung that piece in quartet OVPP - quite fun even though us alti must go down rather low in some places).

As for the beautiful chorus #6 ("Du wollest dem Feinde"), the conductor asked us to sing it with a very "round" and soft sound and I think it sounded very good. Funnily enough the part that caused the most concern at the last rehearsal was the last one where all voices sing in unison the same repeated low C....

In BWV 193 we had only one chorus to sing but quite animated and repeated it at the end. The two female soloists had beautiful but difficult parts and managed these very well.

The audience seemed very pleased. As there is no occultation in the church, we could see the faces of the people, which illuminated more and more throughout the concert. This a very pleasant feeling, that we shared too, thanks to this wonderful music.

I hope I did not make too many mistakes in my report as I am still a novice in matter of Bach performances...

I will keep you informed about our new season (2007-2008) as soon as the information is on our website.

Nessie Russell wrote (June 24, 2007):
[To Thérèse Hanquet] Thank you Thérèse. This was especially nice to read:
< Our public is fidel and enthusiastic. The concerts are at 10:30 AM and some people are already sitting there at 9:00 when we start warming up! >

Without an audience this type of music will die.


Bach Concert on March 26th

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (March 28, 2009):
Just a word about the recent concert of the Chapelle des Minimes (Brussels) on last Thursday.

This was somewhat special because it was organised for the benefit of the Minimes church, which still requires renovation works. Thus for once it was on the evening and paying.

We performed works already performed in recent concerts: excerpts of the G major Mass (BWV 236), cantata BWV 159, motet "Jesu meine Freude" (BWV 227), and excerpts of a cantata by Johann Christoph Bach: "Meine Freundin, du bist schön".

I did not know this last cantata as I had not taken part in the performance of February, and I was fascinated and hypnotized by this work. Julius Stenzel had chosen to link the second movement (soprano aria) with the last chorus. It was his wife, Christine Minet, who performed the soprano part of the aria, and it was deeply moving. I found the dialogue with the violin in this aria particularly enjoyable. There was no interruption between the aria and the last chorus we performed with the choir, with the violin continuing to make embroideries around the vocal part.

When I came back home, I discovered that I had a recording of this piece in the "Altbachisches Archiv 1", by Cantus Cölln. I listened to it again, and thought that it was an excellent idea to link two parts that are normally separated by other movements, which in some way break the magic (in my opinion - I would like to have the opinion of others?).

I can imagine how this was once attributed to Johann Sebastian... well thanks to this I do not need to indicate OT in the subject... or do I?


BWV 29 and BWV 215 in Brussels

Thérèse Hanquet wrote (June 26, 2011):
Ed's post reminded me that it has been a long time since I gave a report of performance, and precisely this morning, the Chapelle des Minimes performed two festive cantatas: BWV 29 ("Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir") and BWV 215 ("Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen") (actually only the opening chorus).

Next year, the Chapelle des Minimes will be 30 years old. At this occasion, we will perform the B minor Mass (BWV 232) in December. As we usually have only three or four rehearsals for each concert, our artistic director (Julius Stenzel) had the excellent idea of making us prepare this huge work by selecting for this year cantatas wich have been "parodied" in the B minor Mass. Hence the choice of the chorus of BWV 215 which will later become the Osanna of BWV 232.

Our conductor for this concert was Benoît Jacquemin, which is also organist, harpsichordist and musicologist. We had a large orchestra with notably 2 oboes , 2 flutes, 3 trumpets, and timpani. Our new organ was played for the first cantata by Andre Roe and for the second by Philippe Gerard (one of our regular conductors).

The soloists were Nadia Hidali (soprano), Piers Maxim (alto) and Jan Caals (tenor, but which also sang the short recitative for bass). The two latter, besides being excellent singers, have also conducted some of our concerts during the 2010-2011 season. And another one of our regular conductors, Julius Stenzel, played the cello.

I will not go into all detailof the concert, but the choir had much fun, in particular with the requiring chorus (for double choir) of BWV 215, which was taken at a quite lively pace. While the melismas are not particularly difficult, the challenge is more to articulate distinctly (at this tempo) some parts of the texts such as "die deine Wohlfahrt lässt täglich wachsen"...

The tempo was also (unusually) quick for the closing chorus of BWV 29. This emphasised the (also unusual) dancing character of this piece in 3/4.

The audience seemed to have appreciated this last performance of the season. Not quite the last, actually, as next Sunday a part of the orchestra (called chamber orchestra) will perform two solo cantatas for soprano (BWV 84 and 204), with as soloist Charlotte Panouclias.

For those interested (and for Aryeh!), a link to the programme of our next season:

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 29, 2011):
Thérèse Hanquet wrote:
< Ed's post reminded me that it has been a long time since I gave a report of performance, and precisely this morning, the Chapelle des Minimes performed two festive cantatas >
Thanks for the report, Therese! Always nice to hear from you, it reminds to have an occasional Chimay Bleu in your honor.


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